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The circular economy is the alternative to the current model (linear economy). It involves analysing the consumption of finite resources and reducing waste until it is eliminated from the system starting from the initial stage.
The circular economy focuses its efforts during its operation on achieving benefits for society as a whole.
The linear system on which our economy was based during the 20th century (extraction, manufacture, use and disposal), together with the exponential increase in consumption in the most developed societies, has already reached its sustainability limits. The depletion of many of the natural resources and fossil fuels that we use every day has long been looming. Hence the pressing need to establish a new model which optimises the flows of materials, energy and waste, with the ultimate objective of maximising the reuse of natural resources. This new model is known as the Circular Economy. A transition path needs to be commenced to move from the linear economy to the circular economy.
In many cases it is cheaper to reuse components than build them from scratch. For example, in the automotive sector, the Swedish company Volvo has been using reused components from discarded vehicles in its production process for years.
Some reports provide data on the economic and social impact that the total assimilation of the current European regulations on waste associated with the Circular Economy would have. It is estimated that around 52,000 jobs would be created in Spain and more than 400,000 throughout Europe; not inconsiderable figures, especially in a country with high unemployment rates such as ours.
In the current situation of scarcity and fluctuation in the costs of raw materials, the Circular Economy favours the security of supply and the reindustrialisation of the country. It should be remembered that Europe is not exactly the continent with the most natural resources, hence the great interest of the EU Member States in promoting the Circular Economy as a paradigm for managing raw materials. The further we advance in this area, the less dependent we will be on other countries and the less impact fluctuations in the prices of raw materials will have on our economic balances, which are always highly susceptible to speculation.
WEEE is the fastest growing waste globally, and may contain dangerous substances, which, despite being necessary to guarantee its functionality, can be emitted into the environment or be harmful to human health if, once they become waste, the devices are not managed and treated properly.
For example, a poorly recycled refrigerator emits greenhouse gases into the atmosphere equivalent to the emissions of a car that has travelled 15,000 kilometres.
The phosphorus inside a television is capable of contaminating up to 80,000 litres of water
For the good of society and the planet, we need to promote a circular economy system in which, at the end of their useful life, these electronic devices are no longer seen as a problem and are treated as a valuable resource that helps to avoid the overexploitation of raw materials, many of which critical due to their scarcity. This will help us achieve our objective, which is to protect the environment and our health.
At ILUNION Reciclados, a leading industrial company in the WEEE recycling sector, we work to efficiently manage waste from an environmental, economic and social perspective, helping to maintain and improve natural and energy resources, promoting Sustainable Development and the Circular Economy.
ILUNION is present across the whole WEEE recycling value chain and offers a comprehensive service to our customers. Our team is made up of 167 people, 101 of whom have some kind of disability.
Daily activities are carried out at two industrial plants, located in La Bañeza (León) and Campo Real (Madrid), where the WEEE is finally treated. The dangerous and potentially polluting substances contained in this waste is removed and materials that can be reused are also recovered.
In 2020, these two plants treated more than 15,000 tonnes of WEEE, of which 90% could be reintroduced into the production cycle to create new products and avoid the extraction of materials from nature, one of the objectives of the Circular Economy.
We have a logistics area, with nine temporary storage centres located in different Spanish provinces, which, together with a fleet of more than 60 specialised vehicles, are responsible for the collection, classification, temporary storage and transport of WEEE to final treatment plants.
During 2020, thanks to our fleet of sustainable vehicles, ILUNION avoided the emission of more than 90 tonnes of CO2 per year during the transport of more than 60,000 tonnes of WEEE